May 2010

The Great Charlie Davies Debate

Writers Jon Levy and Puck sat down Tuesday evening to deconstruct the 30-man pool Bob Bradley will select from to construct his final World Cup roster. The topic of conversation on everyone’s mind — what about Charlie Davies? Here’s what ensued…

Jon Levy:  In general, I was impressed with the preliminary 30-man World Cup roster named by Bob Bradley on Tuesday. He did a great job synthesizing all the variables that have been debated of late on sites like this one, that most important blog of our time. Club form, track record, and success with the national team all seemed to be calculated in proper measure to get the number to 30. I can’t help but disagree with all the fans and pundits who are praising the move of leaving Charlie “Chuck D” Davies off the preliminary roster. After all, this is roster is just that, preliminary. Why not bring the still-recovering striker to camp and just cut him in a month if he’s not ready to play?

Puck:  I do agree that this was an extremely well thought out and tactically sound initial 30 man roster selection. I know great deals of people are disappointed, but not bringing Chuck D was a great move on the part of old Bobbo. We have to remember that while this training camp serves as a tune up, it also serves as an active and intense competition for the final roster spots. By having Chuck D on the roster, but not actually working out leaves Bobbo with the job of judging one of the participating forwards with what he knows Chuck D has the ability to do, while also trying to factor in what he is physically capable of at this point.

JFL: I’m into the camp being a high intensity competition for roster spots and starting berths, but come on man, Charlie Davies is one dude. Who’s the last guy in? Robbie Findley or Rogers, perhaps? At least one of those guys has pretty much no shot at making the squad. If they put Findley on the roster I might lose my mind. If they put Rogers on the field in South Africa we’ll all lose our minds watching him try stepovers in front of world class defenders. So why not get Davies in camp, evaluate him with our medical staff rather than blindly trusting the French club who’s got an obvious vested interest that may not JUST be for the good of the player? They do have to protect their investment in Chuck D after all.

P:  First, yes the dirty Frenchies have a vested interest in Chuck D. However to think that we blindly took their word is pretty ignorant. Secondly, Robbie and Findley are there to push the others to work hard. They obviously know they have little to no chance of making the team, so they will push the other men to work harder. Let’s just say Chuck D was on the 30-man roster. When it comes time cut the roster to 23, and Chuck has made progress, but is still not all the way there, what then? Do we gamble and take an out of form player coming from a major (and nearly deadly and career ending) injury? If we are down one nothing in a game against England or let’s say Germany, do you want to have a Chuck D rehab appearance off the bench? I would much rather have an in form, and fit Buddle or Johnson. Furthermore, we don’t know if Chuck D will ever be the same player again after such traumatic injuries.

JFL:  I didn’t say it wasn’t a risk, but I’d argue that if you’re the American national team, and the sport is soccer, you’re probably going to have to take a big risk here and there if you’re trying to win the most important tournament in the world which is held once every four years. We’re surely not going to have a chance to take a fully fit Chuck D to the World Cup finals next year. And can everyone please stop using the fact that he almost died as an excuse not to give him a look! This is where I come across as a heartless prick for telling the truth, but in purely logical terms, our boy Charlie is alive, and he’ll continue to be alive and to be able to play the sport even if he has a minor setback in his recovery at this point in the game. Sports fans may have laughed at the Orlando Magic giving point guard Jameer Nelson what was essentially a rehab assignment in the NBA Finals against the Lake Show last year, but maybe Stan Van had just seen some tape of T.O. turning in an MVP caliber performance in Super Bowl XXXIX in what was absolutely a rehab start. If I’m the manager I don’t automatically assume that Chuck D’s gonna go Jameer and not T.O. on that ass.

P:  I understand that he is alive, and his career is not over, but you can’t simply overlook the fact that his injuries were so severe. If we sports fans make such a huge deal about how it takes a QB in the NFL nearly two full years to recovery from an ACL tear, we cannot simply say “He still here” and ignore the lacerated bladder, shattered pelvis, broken legs, etc. This whole argument speaks to the larger point, the idealizing of Chuck D. Since the accident, USMNT fans seems to have this romantic love affair with Davies. Before the accident, Davies had made 17 appearances for the USMNT, but really only became an important piece in the last five. Most importantly, he was a major factor in debatably the greatest win in USMNT history against Spain. Many have made the assumption that Chuck D would have continued to develop and dominate, but we can never know for sure. It’s entirely possible that he could have lost his touch or form over the last 7 months, putting himself in a similar situation as Sacha Kljestan; fighting for his World Cup life. Essentially Chuck’s career is not over, but pushing too hard for this June could make the situation worse.

JFL:  While I don’t agree that the player’s formerly lacerated bladder and formerly broken bones should take Chuck out of consideration if they’re functioning well now, I do agree that he has been overly romanticized since his accident. Far be it from the four-letter network to mention soccer when they’re not running their once-a-commercial-break World Cup ads, but anytime Davies’ recovery is actually referenced on SportsCenter it’s accompanied with a montage set to something like Kanye’s “Jesus Walks” that makes him look like the greatest player of all time and the most courageous human in history. You know me Puck, I’m not that guy. Not the guy to buy into all that crap at least. But if we really kick the ballistics on this, you have to admit that Chuck D’s speed, finishing, and chemistry with Landon and Jozy gives the Yanks offense some sizzle. I guess we’re just gonna have to hope Edson Buddle stays MLS Edson with the national team and doesn’t turn into USMNT Findley.

P:  San Diego, a whale’s vagina, agree to disagree. I think it’s time for you and I to get back to watching Leo Nunez try and not blow this save for the Fish while we pound PBR’s.

JFL:  Agreed, the Marlins bullpen is going to give me a heart attack this year. Time for Puck’s Free Advice?

P: Thanks Jon, I almost forgot. Here it is… Listening to Pearl Jam is NEVER a bad idea.

JFL:  Very true, also, I’m pretty sure handles of the very smooth and very cheap Canadian Hunter whiskey are an additional three dollars off until the end of July.

P & JFL:  Sorry for partying!

Jon Levy

  • Daniel Seco

    Puck sounds so eloquent. My god, things have changed since I skipped town! Great work, boys.

  • Amy

    I’m not saying Steve Davis is a daily reader of Puck– I’m just saying…

  • Will

    I’m thinking very much in line with Puck on this one. Of course, Davies could certainly have turned out to be a major contributor in South Africa, and the team may very well miss having him up front–but it’s equally possible that he just wouldn’t have been ready to contribute at the level the team and American fans (especially the ones who had no idea who CD was before his accident) were expecting. It doesn’t sound like Bradley had any way to assess him well enough to make even a remotely educated guess, so I’m all for him staying home, concentrating on whatever rehab he’s undergoing, and gearing up for a strong club season in the fall.

    And yeah, I’m with Seco…the eloquence (and even general grammatical correctness) of this conversation sounds pretty suspicious. No impassioned Jon Levy emotional appeals, no exasperated Puck cries of “you’re…no, no, you’re RETARDED!” It just seems a little bit fishy–were you guys by any chance wearing shirts when this all went down?

  • Jon

    Puck was in a wife beater and I was wearing a shirt when we wrote this, but not a few minutes later when I finished the next 32 players to watch post regarding a certain Frenchman that will hit the site soon enough… so that piece will be sexier by osmosis.

  • truthS

    I must say I agree as well that leaving CD out was the right thing to do. I’m sure they had as much information as Sochaux as to how Davies was fairing in training; and we cant waste a spot waiting for someone to get healthy. Good job for Bradley.